The New Health Center


Photo by Nicholas Bisulca

The new and improved health center is shown above.

Nicholas Bisulca and Therasa Fu, Chief Editor and Senoir Editor

On Friday, January 13th, All School President Riko Kishitani stood on stage during morning meeting and announced the highly anticipated opening of Lake Forest Academy’s new Health Center. The new building opened on January 17th, as the Health Department finalizes efforts to move into Lower New Hall. 

The desire for a larger Health Center has long been in discussion, as Jennifer Madeley, one of LFA’s therapists, and Anna Kliner, the Director of Health Services, noted. “The [previous] Health Center wasn’t the most accessible; there was no elevator, nor a lot of privacy with a constant stream of kids walking through,” Madeley continued. 

Chief Financial Officer Mike Reidy added that “in a case like COVID where you’ve got a lot of students who are sick at once, there wasn’t nearly enough room to provide the service for 435 students.” The lack of resting rooms, such as in the case of a pandemic, amplified this desire for “stronger student care”– and on-site, in close vicinity to the student population. 

The Health Center received all of its funding from donations. Fundraising activities brought together parents, alumni, and other partners to raise a sizable amount of $1.55 million, with $1.25 million devoted to the construction and the additional $300,000, to an endowment designated for facility upkeep, including the repair and replacement of equipment.

With assistance from the Lake Forest Academy administration and the Board of Trustees, a Gala Project was organized to support fundraising. Potential donors were invited to make their financial commitments– whose sum, as Christine Ryder, the Assistant Dean of Advancement, said, “has enabled LFA to elevate its facilities to be on par with its stellar health team, and honors students’ physical and mental wellbeing.” 

However, this is not the first renovation of New Hall. Over the years, the “orchestra building” has taken on numerous identities, including a dorm, office space, student center, weight room, and years ago, a chapel. But with the introduction of the JC Cowart Center in 2016 (another huge financial undertaking), the lower area has been largely abandoned, with the exception of storage, and was closed off to students. Ryder reaffirmed, “this was a complete metamorphosis of the space and a productive way to reuse something from the past.” 

Construction to revamp the lower New Hall began in the Summer of 2022 and continues in the Wellness (Zen) garden. As the weather warms, the Zen garden intends to tie into the formal gardens, creating a peaceful and earthy environment for students to relax when they need a break. The Health Center’s interior will also see a number of finishing touches as the Health Department unwraps its final boxes and completes furnishing the rooms– both of which don’t bar students from visiting or utilizing new provisions. Upper Reid will also undergo a small transformation, as the IT department will expand into the hallway branching off from the main staircase, where the Health Center used to be.

Inside, the Health Center is split into two main hallways, one for physical health and the other for mental health. The infirmary includes daytime resting rooms, along with overnight rooms with private bathrooms for students who need overnight care. Similarly, caretakers staying overnight have their own rooms to oversee student patients. There are two exam rooms mimicking a doctor’s office, a lab where Kliner can write prescriptions and perform physicals, a room dedicated to group therapy, and finally, many puzzles, games, and arts and crafts supplies for student entertainment. With the addition of the exam rooms, LFA opens up the avenue to host on-site doctors, like dermatologists or psychiatrists, should they be needed.

If students ever feel sick, need medication, or need someone to talk to, they can visit the new Health Center located south of the Student Center, under the bridge. To get in touch with a counselor, students can email Madeley or Nirali Dalia, school therapists, and simply stop by the Health Center to access the resting rooms. It is the hope that with LFA expanding its services to encompass a new Health Center, the welfare side of student life on campus will be elevated.